Getting vaccine-ready in case of a lockdown
WA’s mandatory vaccination rules outline specific deadlines for workers to be vaccinated if they fall into two distinct groups.
But under the State Government’s policy there is also a third group that needs to be fully vaccinated to attend work in the event of a lockdown or similar restrictions — and the deadline for their vaccination is now.
As CCIWA’s Workplace Relations Director Ryan Martin explains, the lockdown group requirement will likely be managed on a case-by-case basis, which means no Public Health Order and/or Directions will be implemented until a lockdown or similar restriction is announced.
“By then it’s too late to do anything about the vaccination status of your staff,” he says.
“Businesses need to be proactive now so they know how many staff are vaccinated and, therefore, whether they can continue operating in the event of a snap lockdown."
Under the mandatory orders, both workers and employers have obligations to ensure they comply with directions, with a penalty of up to $20,000 enforceable for workers and up to $100,000 for employers for non-compliance.
“Businesses are responsible for gathering information to confirm compliance,” Martin says. “They also play a vital role in communicating those requirements to staff.”
Who do the lockdown requirements apply to?
WA's mandatory vaccination requirements have been split into three groups. A breakdown of the list of occupations in each group can be found here.
In the event of a lockdown, the following workers are required to be vaccinated to attend work:
- Other click and collect retail
- Bottle shops
- Pet stores
- Conveyancing and settlement agents (time-critical legal matters)
- Government or local government services, if working from home not possible
- Administrative services to enable its employees to work from home
- Vehicle and mechanical repair services
- Journalistic and media services
- Members and staff of Members of Parliament of Western Australia
- Roadside assistance
- Forestry (for critical reasons)
- Primary industries (necessary to provide food to, and care of animals and maintenance of crops)
- Critical factories, manufacturing, fabrication and production
For more see: CCIWA’s vaccination guide in the event of a lockdown.
How do I get prepared in case there is a lockdown?
You need to understand the vaccination status of your workforce now so that in the event of a lockdown you can provide health authorities with an accurate record.
This will also allow you to assess whether you have enough vaccinated staff to maintain your operations.
Martin advises taking the following initial steps:
- Notify affected employees of their requirement to be vaccinated to attend work in the event of a lockdown (CCIWA members can access a template letter here);
- Ask employees to disclose their vaccination status. Employers will also be required to take steps to ensure that unvaccinated workers do not attend the workplace in the event of a lockdown or similar restrictions.
Employers need to be aware of their obligations under the relevant privacy legislation to ensure that this information is only used for the purpose of complying with the WA Government requirement and that all reasonable steps are taken to prevent unauthorised access, misuse or loss of this information.
Business continuity and vaccination policies
Can your business afford to close if a snap lockdown is called? Can unvaccinated employees work remotely? What if your staff can’t work?
These are some of the issues you need to consider now so you’re prepared for a lockdown or similar restrictions.
CCIWA’s HR Consulting service can assist organisations to develop tailored business continuity plans to deal with disruptive events, such as lockdowns. Information is also available in our WA Category 3 PHO Business Continuity Plan.
If an audit of vaccine records finds the vaccination rate amongst your staff is low, you may need to consider options to promote vaccine uptake, including a mandatory vaccination policy.
Martin says businesses need to urgently understand the risks now.
“Once a lockdown is announced they will be forced to closed if a sufficient number of staff are not vaccinated for them to continue operations,” he says.
“Getting prepared now can save a costly shutdown.”
CCIWA can help you develop a vaccination policy tailored for your business. Contact our team of Workplace Relations lawyers on (08) 9365 7746 or via BusinessLawWA@cciwa.com.